Overrated NFL Handicapping Storylines for Week 1
by Trevor Whenham - 9/4/2012
As we get closer to the start of the NFL season, the media goes crazy writing, talking about, and examining every possible storyline. Some storylines in particular get a whole lot of attention — far more than they deserve. They sound good and they seem important, so they get talked about much more than they deserve. And as a result the betting public attaches more significance to them than they deserve.
Here are six storylines right now that aren’t nearly as important as they might seem:
I hope for the best for Peyton Manning, but I am a long way from optimistic about him and the Broncos this year.
The common story in the media and among the general betting public is that Manning turns this team into an immediate, serious contender. He may do so, but there are a whole lot of factors working against his squad.
Given his age and his health woes he could be injured on any play, and his effectiveness at earlier levels is far from guaranteed. The AFC West is a tough-and-improved division, and a playoff spot will be hard to come by.
The Broncos team was a long way from a great team last year, and they still have some serious problems that haven’t been addressed. While this team will certainly be interesting to watch, and they have some potential, to suggest that they are an immediate major contender after bringing in Manning would be a gross overstatement.
You’ve probably heard it a hundred times by now — there are five rookies starting at quarterback to begin the season, and five more second-year players. The story is that there is a strong youth movement in the league.
While that is true, it’s far from relevant from a betting perspective.
It doesn’t matter what type of trend there is with quarterbacks overall. The only thing that matters is how each team’s quarterback fits with his team, what tools he has to work with, and what can reasonably be expected from him. Worrying about overall trends or movements can only distract you from the things that really matter for bettors.
Super Bowl hangover
Teams often struggle in the year after they have won the Super Bowl. So what impact does that trend have on what to expect from the Giants this year?
I’m not saying that the Giants aren’t going to have issues that could potentially keep them out of the playoffs. In fact, I’m not a big fan of the team at all this year. It’s just that using the Super Bowl hangover as a factor in handicapping the Giants this year is, at best, lazy.
If you look back at every team that has struggled after a Super Bowl win, you can find reasons why it happened. More significantly, the reasons for each team are different, and are only peripherally related to their Super Bowl issues.
It could be that they have lost a lot of players as their successful players became attractive free agents. Or perhaps they have had key players retire. Maybe they got hot at the right time to win it all and they can’t recreate that great luck.
You need to look at this Giants team right now without letting what has happened in the past guide your opinions.
New England’s wide receiver woes
The Patriots made dramatic changes at wide receiver at the end of the preseason. They cut Deion Branch, Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth and traded for Greg Salas from the Rams.
Some people are indicating that this is a sign of trouble since these were bold, late moves. To say that, though, doesn’t give the Patriots enough credit after all these years.
They are very good at personnel management, so if they are making these moves you know they aren’t doing them recklessly. They still have two of the best tight ends in football, the best possession receiver in the league, and some nice young talent on board. Salas is a very nice addition as well.
There is absolutely no reason to worry about the Patriots — at least not because of their roster shuffling.
Arizona’s QB battle
More than any other team in the league, the QB battle in Arizona is all but irrelevant. John Skelton has beaten out Kevin Kolb, but it just doesn’t matter. Neither guy is proven, both guys have issues, and the race was far from inspiring.
The Cardinals are not going to be a very good team this year, and it’s hard to imagine that one guy or the other was going to be particularly more successful than the other. Both of these guys can manage a game reasonably well at times, but neither will be a star, and neither will take this team anywhere of note.
Saints’ coaching issues
The coaching situation for the Saints is bizarre and unprecedented. They will have two head coaches this year, and neither guy is their usual head coach. That story is getting a lot of media coverage.
I’m not convinced it is ultimately nearly as significant as it is being portrayed, though.
The interim coaches are both very familiar to the team, and the players will be comfortable with them. The core of this team is established and mature, and Drew Brees is a very respected leader.
The team is much better suited than most teams to handle this situation. Besides, the team has had a long time to plan, adapt and adjust to the situation, so it should no longer be an issue for them.
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